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Apples to Apples

Buying from the farmers’ market supports the growers and the planet, but at what price? We bought, cooked, and tasted three sets of veggies to see what freshness costs and whether the flavor is worth the hype

Photograph by Cedric Angeles

The Ingredients: Yams, Yukon Gold potatoes, zucchini, baby zucchini, yellow squash, red beets, yellow beets, cauliflower, carrots, bell peppers (all nonorganic)

The Technique: Tossed with salt, pepper, and olive oil and roasted in the oven at 400 degrees. Cooking times varied

WHAT DID IT COST?   

Everyday chain grocer:
Total: $39.51
Biggest splurge: Yukon Gold potatoes, at $1.99 per pound 

Upscale chain grocer:
Total: $54.19
Biggest splurge: Cauliflower, at  $5.99 per pound 

Farmers’ market:
Total: $28
Biggest splurge: Carrots and beets, at $2 a bunch. Still a steal!

HOW DID IT HOLD UP? 

Everyday chain grocer:
Peppers and carrots lacked distinctive flavor. Those pricey potatoes, however, outfluffed even the market spuds.

Upscale chain grocer:
The yams were sweet and the cauliflower was nutty, but roasting turned most of these veggies to mush. 

Farmers’ market:
The small, ruddy beets proved stringy, but for vibrancy, the wallet-friendly produce from the farm scored the highest. 

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